Clay Buddies: Emily Bukoski
Dec 10, 2021 • Shannon Doyne
Here at East Fork, Emily Bukoski is the executive assistant to Connie Matisse, our CEO. She knows the name, purpose and next step of every moving part at this company, literal and figurative. Here, she talks business and pleasure and names five objects that are dear to her.
Emily, what does your average day entail here at East Fork?
My day looks like one big Rubik's cube. I’m keeping an eye on the goings-on across lots of departments and constantly weighing priorities so I can help focus Connie’s time. I’m a point person for helping folks find the information they need, and I’m generally just trying to make sure big projects and little tasks don’t slip through the cracks. I’m doing a lot of work right now with our project management software (we use ClickUp), building out templates and training folks on how to use the tools to keep us all connected and working efficiently.
What is the thing about your job that would surprise people the most?
That booking meetings for Connie is the hardest part of the job! I’m not only looking at what windows of time are open, but also considering her bandwidth and what other work she has to accomplish that day, and when a new meeting request comes in and someone else thinks it’s high priority I have to consider all 27 other meetings on the schedule and what can wait and what can’t!
What did you do, workwise, before this?
I’ve always found myself in support roles, helping people or teams stay organized! My first job when I moved to Asheville was with a Green Building company called EcoBuilders and I was the office manager there. Cut to the 2008 recession and when that business closed I found myself office manager at a web design company, and later worked for a video production company in more of a project management role.
How do you apply what you learned there to your work here at East Fork?
I learned that no matter the industry or medium (houses, websites, videos, pottery), there are always people who need support staying organized! I’ve also learned that everyone has their own unique way of working or preferred ways of communicating, and I’m good at adapting to whatever is in front of me.
You’re from Maryland? How did you get from there to Asheville?
I grew up in a rural part of Western Maryland, in a log cabin my Dad built out of an old reclaimed barn, and where he still lives! When I was looking at colleges I knew I wanted to get out of town and aimed my applications south, and ended up at Winthrop in Rock Hill, SC. During my time there I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Australia, and officially caught the travel bug. When I graduated, I did a 6 month internship for a company that sent students overseas for international internships, and I just loved talking to people about the benefits of study and work abroad. Towards the end of that 6 months I got to visit Asheville, and with no other plans, decided it would be as good a place as any to figure out my next steps!
What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
I love being outside as much as possible! Now with a 3.5 yr old I don’t get out for the long all-day hikes I used to when I first moved here, but we still get out on the Mountains to Sea trail near our house, and we spend many weekend mornings at the North Carolina Arboretum. One of my other favorite things about Asheville is the food, and I am eager to try every new restaurant that opens. I’m also in the best book club ever with my closest friends where we actually read and talk about the book!
What are your philosophies on entertaining at home? Got any advice for people who feel exhausted the second they think about inviting people over?
I was just talking to a friend about this - I love thinking about the mix of people who I invite and curating a specific “vibe” when entertaining. For me I find having people over and entertaining to be exciting and satisfying and being surrounded by friends puts me at ease, but I know not everyone feels the same! I make a point to prepare ahead as much as possible - if I’m having a big gathering with lots of folks (like our annual meatball cook-off!) I’ll start bringing out the folding tables and extra plates and utensils over the course of the week. Even for a smaller gathering, like my book club, I go ahead and set out the wine glasses and arrange the chairs and light the candles well ahead of everyone arriving, so when people get there I’m truly just enjoying the gathering like everyone else, and not rushing around looking for the wine opener at the last minute. One thing I often spend an inordinate amount of time on is picking a playlist - music literally sets the tone, so I think about whether I want to feel low key or high energy or something in between - so that’s usually what I’m doing when people show up!
What kind of music do you like? Do you listen to music while you work? What do you listen to while you’re cooking?
While I’m working I like to listen to music that’s unfamiliar to me, so it fades into the background more easily. I was on a “Hypnotic African Guitar” kick for a while, and like listening to instrumental hip-hop beats or neo-Soul type stuff, and Leon Bridges has been a go-to recently. When I’m cooking I love scanning through the suggested “cooking” playlists on Spotify for some upbeat, danceable tunes!
What’s your favorite current and retired East Fork glazes?
Night Swim is definitely my favorite glaze (retired). For my day-to-day collection I’m an Eggshell gal!
If you had to give up all but one piece of your East Fork pottery collection, what would you keep and why?
I gotta keep The Mug! Any time I travel and have to use a non-East Fork mug, I miss it. It’s truly just superior to all other mugs out there.
What five objects are you sharing with us? What is the story behind each of them?
Buddha incense burner - This was a gift from my Mom that she gave to me right before she passed away when I was in High School. She ran flea market stalls and always had all kinds of interesting decor and knick knacks around the house, including all kinds of Buddha statues. It reminds me of her, and I still have a few sticks of the original incense she gave me with it - just writing this now I can imagine the scent of it.
Birthday poems - At some point my Dad started writing me poems and mailing them to me on my birthday. They’re simple and sweet and just bring a smile to my face. His handwriting is so distinct to me as well, I love seeing it.
Jewelry box - My husband loves woodworking and made me this custom jewelry box as part of his proposal plan. He said he had a gift for me, and I was floored and surprised just by the jewelry box itself, then I was double floored when he gave me a ring too!
Photo of my blastocyst - It was a long and windy and difficult road for me to get pregnant, and we ended up doing IVF, which involved taking my eggs and fertilizing them and letting them grow in a lab. Around Day 5 they reach what’s called the “Blastocyst” phase where the cells have divided to a certain point and thus have a fairly good chance of continuing to grow. When we went in for the transfer my doctor gave me this photo of our blastocyst, which ended up turning into a happy, healthy, hilarious 3.5 year old human! It’s just wild and amazing to me, and I love looking at it and thinking about how cool science is, and also how grateful I am that it worked and I don’t have to go through that again.
Pandemic porch - So many of us were feeling really isolated last year, and I especially had a hard time not being able to gather with friends indoors throughout the winter of 2020 and early 2021. My husband decided to build us what I call our “Pandemic Porch” - a really big detached deck in our backyard that let us have people over and enjoy each other's company at a safe distance outdoors! I was so grateful that my (aforementioned amazing) book club friends came over one 30 degree day in January where it had snowed that morning and bundled up in hats and blankets to still get together! That porch is definitely *priceless* to me.
Hi all… so glad that I hit pause to read this profile… what a joy!! And the questions opened up some pretty cool and wonderful windows of heart, mind and matter. Oh, I live in MD, so there I go, hooked and still in……. Then there is that 6 degrees of separation thing… because back in the early 90’s I found myself living and working in Asheville… chasing my own sort of career dream with Malaprops as my primary go-to lunch spot… even copped a few nods in my favorite corner chair there. you know… So much has changed since then.. Yet, so many folks are doing good work and working toward good. East Fork is the gift and is a gift. thanks for the holiday mixed tape.. Happy Holidays to everyone everywhere!! Love, love, love. CH
I love your interview, Emily. I can tell you had amazing, joyful, creative parents who helped make you the terrific person you seem to be! (Also, I’m asking my husband to give me The Mug for Christmas. Got a lot of mugs in my cabinet, but looking forward to a couple of them reigning supreme😍).
Tell Connie hi. We were some of Alex and her early customers back when they had the sweet kiln out in Marshall. Now my daughter-in-law asks for East Fork Pottery just about every gift. Loved seeing your growth in a customer, environment, and employee-friendly manner. Can’t be easy. Wow!
Merry Christmas to all!
Woke up this morning feeling sort of blah. Going through emails came across one from East Fork.
Aside from the lovely things to buy the interview with Emily was a very nice way to start the day.
Made me think about what is good & precious in my life. Nice job!!